Geek of the Week
Saying that it runs in the family could be a
huge understatement. Isca is a member of a critically-acclaimed
artmaking family. Usually, having a famed photographer and filmmaker
as a father, a sculptor for an uncle and an abstract-impressionist
painter grandfather would make one shy away from an art career altogether,
but Isca Greenfield-Sanders hasn't blinked an eye, or cowered under
the pressure. She has entered new territory all on her own, creating
art with untraditional and highly innovative approaches.
Still her family's creative spirit shines through
her work. Her paintings embody both the realism of photography and
the expressiveness of a painter's brushstroke, but there is something
more. Behind the artistic mystique, lies a self-proclaimed nerd.
Isca's interest in math at an early age stretched into her academic
career, leading to a dual major in math and painting at Brown University.
A marriage of two extremes to some, her discovery of computers fostered
these interests, leading to a critical turning point in her painting
career and a newfound medium for artmaking.
She first takes found objects -- photographs,
and what follows is a high-tech exercise in mixed media, combining
watercoloring, printing, multiple scanning, photography, digital
composition and image manipulation in Photoshop, as well as oil
painting. The result is a collection of printed sections, meticulously
set up in a grid-like format like pieces of a puzzle to create one
collosal masterpiece. The process itself goes against all tradition,
pushing the boundaries and blurring the definition of what art is,
but the images revive traditional themes of family, memory, love,
loss and nostalgia.
Her innovative art process and the nature of
her work have made her one of the most sought after emerging artists
in New York. But it's hard to consider her an "emerging artist".
She has had five solo shows within the past four years, the first
while she was still taking her undergraduate courses. She has been
profiled by major publications such as Vogue, Oprah Magazine, and
Wired and she has already sold one of her painting to the Guggenheim
Museum. All of this by the age of 25.
Needless to say, we are very excited to have
Isca as our Girl Geek of the Week. Her passion for creative expression
and enthusiasm for technology is indeed a powerful combination that
will lead her to new avenues yet to be explored in the artmaking
process. This week, she shares with us how technology has brought
her artistic ideas into reality as well as her insight on the mentoring
of girls in math and science.
Tell us more about yourself and your background
My first computer was an apple IIc. My grandfather,
Arnold Greenfield was the first person to have a computer in my
family, he believed that you were never too old to be on the forefront
of technology. I had a brief period where I switched over to the
dark side and had "non apple" computers… but quickly regained my
senses. In college I bought my first large scale Epson printer with
archival ink sets and began developing the technique that I currently
employ to make my paintings.
When did you first
discover your love or obsession with technology and new media?
I first discovered my love for technology when
it helped me to make the paintings that I imagined into reality.
I had so many ideas for the way I wanted a painting to look, and
my hand by itself only provided me with so many options. Adding
the computer and the printer to my list of tools boosted my previous
capabilities and allowed me to produce what I really wanted.
Were you encouraged as a child to learn more
about and participate in science, math and more technical-oriented
Both my parents encouraged me to be a good student…
but I was a born math chick. I picked my high school (Brearley)
because of it's strong math program (despite the fact that it was
all girls) and I picked my college (Brown) because they would let
me double major in math and painting. For my eight grade science
fair I built a working steam powered ride on lawn mower.
Did you have a mentor in the field or anyone
who inspired you to use technology in your work?
Mike and Doug Starn are artists who inspired
me from a very young age to mix techniques and technologies to make
artwork. Also, the inventor Henry Gifford has been an inspiration
to me. He is a heating systems specialist who seems to see no real
difference between art and science. This kind of thinking is quite
How much of mentoring is important to women
I joked earlier that I went to my high school
despite the fact that it was all girls, but in fact that was very
important to me. I was worried that in a co-ed high school I wouldn't
get enough encouragement in the math and sciences and would be convinced
to exclusively pursue my artistic side. Mentoring is particularly
important for girls who can't choose to go to a single sex school
the way that I did. Girls have to be shown that excelling at Math
and Science is not just for boys.
What do you think we need to do to get more
women interested in technology?
Teach parents to encourage their girls to not
to choose "what they are good at" too early. Especially in Math,
I found that girls got discouraged and then continued to have a
hard time when math didn't come immediately to them. Boys seem to
be less intent on immediate perfection.
How did you become interested in art and when
did you decide to start integrating new media and technology to
your art making?
I am a third generation artist. My grandfather
Joop Sanders is an abstract expressionist painter, my uncle John
Sanders is a sculptor and my father is a photographer. You might
say I was destined to become an artist. I started to integrate new
media into my art making in college after becoming dissatisfied
with the limits of the more traditional techniques. I wanted a way
to combine all these beautiful ways of making images from the past,
I needed the computer to collect and unify seemingly disparate elements.
I use photography, printmaking, watercolor and oil paintings all
in one painting now with the help of scanning printing and Photoshop.
In your opinion, in what other ways do you
think technology would better serve society?
I don't know, I will
have to leave that question up to others.
What advice can you give to girls or women
who are just beginning to learn about technology and new media?
There are no limits. When someone says "oh, that
technology doesn't exist" this simply means that you have to invent
it. The hardest thing to have is vision.
What do you do when you aren't working and
thinking about the next project?
I am never not working. It is not in my DNA to
What are your current or future projects?
I just finished painting a show for the Galerie
Klüser in Munich Germany. I am exhausted, and thinking of taking
the summer off to only make little landscape paintings (my first
love). Also, I just got engaged so I will probably spend some time
planning the wedding with my fiancé, Sebastian Blanck (a fellow
Any favorite websites, tech tools or cool
devices to recommend?
Not really. I am pretty old school. I really
like Television, I think it is fascinating. Tivo / Replay TV changed
my life because now I go out without missing my favorite shows (of
which there are many).
Do you consider yourself
Photo: By Timothy Greenfield-Sanders